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Tuesday
Jul052011

Mid-Year Career Strategy

Have You Updated Your Personal Development Plan For 2011?

Why not? 

This is a good way to do some serious self-reflecting.  It will help you identify and pinpoint your internal and external strengths and weaknesses.   Most importantly, it will help you prioritize your projects for the rest of the year and plan for the direction you’d like your career/life to go in 2012.

To make sure this happens mid-year (and that’s now), you will want to do two things.

Deal with your resistance to planning

Maybe you don’t have extra time now to devote to planning for your future.  It’s summer, the weather is nice and family vacations are taking up your time and energy.  It may seem better to do a task like this several months from now when there is less going on so you can do the best job possible.  

Failing to plan now can leave you without clear direction three months from now and before you know it, Christmas will have come and gone and you won’t have made any progress towards your career or personal goals.  Time will inevitably pass and by taking a proactive approach you can put yourself in the driver’s seat to take charge of your life and career.

Set time aside this week

Make room in your week for working on this.  Commit to spending one to two hours on it.  Sometimes just getting started gets your momentum going and motivates you to continue and finish. Better yet, getting started now may reveal some key planning or action items you need to take care of this month so you can be that much closer to where you want to be two months from now.

How should you get started if you haven’t ever created a personal development plan?

Business school and Executive Management/Leadership training taught me about the SWOT method.  SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.  You can use SWOT as a framework for building your career strategy.  Here’s what to consider:

Strengths

Internal positive aspects are under your control and you can capitalize on them in planning for your career/life goals. These would include:

  • Work experience
  • Education, including value-added features like certifications, etc.
  • Strong technical knowledge within your field (e.g. hardware, software, programming languages)
  • Specific transferable skills (e.g., communication, teamwork, leadership skills)
  • Personal characteristics (e.g., strong work ethic, self-discipline, ability to work under pressure, creativity, optimism, or a high level of energy)

Weaknesses

Internal negative aspects that are under your control and that you may plan to improve could include:

  • Lack of work experience in correct field
  • Wrong career choice
  • Weak networking skills
  • Negative personal characteristics (e.g., poor work ethic, lack of discipline, lack of motivation, indecisiveness, shyness, too emotional)

Opportunities

Positive external conditions that you do not control but of which you can plan to take advantage. These may include:

  • Positive trends in your field that will create more jobs (e.g., growth, globalization, technological advances)
  • Geography
  • Your personal network and mentors

Threats

Negative external conditions that you do not control but the effect of which you may be able to lessen. These include:

  • Negative trends in your field that diminish jobs (downsizing, obsolescence)
  • Obstacles in your way
  • Limited advancement in your field because advancement is cut-throat and competitive
  • Limited professional development opportunities in your field

Action Plan

 Your key task here is to set specific timetables and deadlines for yourself.  Plan to get started this week.

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